Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 10, pp 2921-2947

Functional traits as indicators of biodiversity response to land use changes across ecosystems and organisms

  • Marie VandewalleAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierDepartment of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Lund University Email author 
  • , Francesco de BelloAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierInstitute of Botany, Czech Academy of Sciences
  • , Matty P. BergAffiliated withDepartment of Animal Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, VU University, Amsterdam
  • , Thomas BolgerAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University College Dublin
  • , Sylvain DolédecAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Fluviaux, Université Lyon 1, UMR CNRS 5023
  • , Florence DubsAffiliated withInstitut de Recherche pour le Développement, UMR 137 BioSol., Centre Ile de France/Universités de Paris
  • , Christian K. FeldAffiliated withDepartment of Applied Zoology/Hydrobiology, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • , Richard HarringtonAffiliated withDepartment of Plant and Invertebrate Ecology, Centre for Bioenergy and Climate Change, Rothamsted Research
  • , Paula A. HarrisonAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment (OUCE)
    • , Sandra LavorelAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph Fourier
    • , Pedro Martins da SilvaAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierDepartment of Life Sciences, IMAR - Marine and Environment Research Centre, University of Coimbra
    • , Marco MorettiAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierResearch Unit Ecosystem Boundaries
    • , Jari NiemeläAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierDepartment of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki
    • , Paulo SantosAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierDepartment of Life Sciences, IMAR - Marine and Environment Research Centre, University of Coimbra
    • , Thomas SattlerAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierResearch Unit Ecosystem Boundaries
    • , J. Paulo SousaAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierDepartment of Life Sciences, IMAR - Marine and Environment Research Centre, University of Coimbra
    • , Martin T. SykesAffiliated withDepartment of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Lund University
    • , Adam J. VanbergenAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierNERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
    • , Ben A. WoodcockAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierNERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

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Abstract

Rigorous and widely applicable indicators of biodiversity are needed to monitor the responses of ecosystems to global change and design effective conservation schemes. Among the potential indicators of biodiversity, those based on the functional traits of species and communities are interesting because they can be generalized to similar habitats and can be assessed by relatively rapid field assessment across eco-regions. Functional traits, however, have as yet been rarely considered in current common monitoring schemes. Moreover, standardized procedures of trait measurement and analyses have almost exclusively been developed for plants but different approaches have been used for different groups of organisms. Here we review approaches using functional traits as biodiversity indicators focussing not on plants as usual but particularly on animal groups that are commonly considered in different biodiversity monitoring schemes (benthic invertebrates, collembolans, above ground insects and birds). Further, we introduce a new framework based on functional traits indices and illustrate it using case studies where the traits of these organisms can help monitoring the response of biodiversity to different land use change drivers. We propose and test standard procedures to integrate different components of functional traits into biodiversity monitoring schemes across trophic levels and disciplines. We suggest that the development of indicators using functional traits could complement, rather than replace, the existent biodiversity monitoring. In this way, the comparison of the effect of land use changes on biodiversity is facilitated and is expected to positively influence conservation management practices.

Keywords

Bioindicators Birds Carabids Collembola Functional diversity Macroinvertebrates Community weighted mean trait Standardized biodiversity monitoring